Why Daylight Savings Time Needs To Die

 

This is a thought experiment, for fun (well it was fun for me, anyway). First, I need to establish the context of the experiment, so here is a brief, but fascinating, history lesson about Time…

Rail Time or “-ish” Time?

Prior to 1883, people had a different relationship to Time than we do today. You could walk into a Jeweler’s Shop, for example, and ask the time. The Jeweler might have said, “It’s 2:30.” You could then cross the street to the bank and the Banker may have looked at his watch and told you, “It’s 1:45 on the dot.” Then you could go next door, right away, to the Grocer and ask the time. The Grocer may have said, “Just turned 2:00.”

The Jeweler, Banker, and Grocer would all have been correct. Of course, that would seem odd today, but it was normal and not even inconvenient, then.

2:30-ish was good enough for the needs of most people, but after 1883, everything changed.

So what happened that made people come to agreement on what time it really was and why were they so misaligned before 1883?

The Railroad happened.

Prior to the advent of the rail system, towns were not necessarily connected in any way that required synchronization. Time was arbitrary because people in Ohio, for example, did not need to be in sync with people from Pennsylvania. Even towns geographically close to each other adhered to different time zones. Most people and towns set their watch by the sun’s location in the sky. For example, when the sun was at the highest point in the sky during the day, it was “noon”. Depending how good your eyesight was or how well-made your town’s sun-dial was, “noon” could be anywhere between 12:00 and 1:00. A town 400 miles away would  have a different “noon” than your town’s noon. It did not really matter because no one was on so tight a schedule that minutes counted so much as hours.

When railroads began connecting towns, however, time differences became a tremendous source of irritation for engineers. If an engineer was to leave Dayton, Ohio at “noon”, how would he know when to leave? The Jeweler would have showed up a half-hour late, the Banker 15 minutes early, and the Grocer might have just made it. Each passenger in each town was using their own approximate measurement of time.

The rails created a unifying effect. Eventually (but with much resistance) people began setting their watches to “rail time”. In 1883, the railroads adopted five standard time zones to replace the multitude of local times. People reluctantly accepted “railroad time”, even though it meant “noon” was not quite when the sun was at its apex in the sky in many locales.

 

The Fun Part

 

Okay, that was the context. Now here is the thought experiment:

 

Let’s look out 30 years and ask, what if ROWE truly is the status quo? If most everyone is producing in a Results-Only Work Environment, how might our concept of Time change (if it changed at all)?

 

Would we inadvertently return to a relaxed way of life, where “-ish” Time is good enough? Would we return to telling our children to “be home before dark” or “when the street lights come on” instead of giving a firm curfew time?

 

Time, being somewhat arbitrary and abstract to most of us, has a unique ability to expand and contract. Have you experienced an hour “fly by” when you are engaged in something meaningful or fun? Does the day just “crawl” when you are stuck performing grueling, mindless tasks that bore you? How might your perception of Life transform if your perception of Time transformed?

 

This is just an experiment. There are no right or wrong answers.

 

How would you meet your friends to catch a movie? Would it matter if they were a half-hour late? Would you care if you felt like you had “all the Time in the world”? What if the movie started late; would it matter? How might a leisurely meal be, if each one stretched to two-hours of laughter and  conversation? What would it be like to never be stuck in rush hour traffic, angry with how much “time” it takes to get home, or to work?

 

In other words, what if, after we threw our traditional, centuries-old concept of Work out the window, we also threw our traditional, centuries-old concept of Time Management out the window?

 

 

How interesting. Think about that, and get back to me about 2:30-ish.

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Volunteer to Make Your Dojo Great.

 

Angela helps a guest at Mizudo. 

 

When I am not training at the dojo, I am training at the dojo.

That is to say, when I am not training, I work as a volunteer at the dojo. I have a career in Communications, but when I volunteer my time, I do whatever is needed–from developing marketing strategies to cleaning restrooms or taking phone calls. You have probably seen me around, working behind the desk or vacuuming. You may be surprised to know my volunteer time is (gasp!) unpaid and (double gasp!) highly rewarding. How can that be?

I consider volunteering to help around the school as just part of my training, like learning self-defense or kata. Through volunteering, I practice the philosophy behind the martial arts I have learned.

 

Martial Arts is about Discipline and Self-control.

I demonstrate both self-control and discipline by focusing on the needs of the dojo and keeping my commitment to make my dojo the best school around. Because it is volunteer work (not paid), it is my choice (not my job), with no outside incentive to push me to do it. That means I have to rely on myself to keep my word. I must truly practice discipline and self-control to honor my commitment to be there.

 

Martial Arts is about Responsibility.

By volunteering, I take responsibility for my training. I take responsibility for the success of my dojo also. I understand my dojo is a reflection of me. That means when guests or family visit, they are not only observing Sensei and the walls. They also watch and judge my ability and my seriousness about training when I am on the mat. Visitors observe how seriously we students take our training on and off the mat, and they notice the dojo’s appearance and cleanliness.

A potential student considers the students currently in class and the general conduct of the dojo (including my conduct). When I think of that, I have to remember it is my dojo; it is where I train; it is up to me to make it great. My dojo and my training are my responsibility.

Martial Arts is about Hard Work and Skill.

Nothing happens without effort and this is certainly true in martial arts. It takes practice, practice, practice. Then it takes more practice, and as with any skill, you get out of it what you put into it.

If all someone hopes to achieve with martial arts training is to know how to intimidate others or beat people up, then I would tell that person they can save a lot of money by going to a schoolyard and watching how bullies do it.

If you want to be something more than a bully, I recommend volunteering as much time helping your dojo as you spend training there. Volunteering is an opportunity to build other martial arts skills. Even things that seem small are an opportunity to show respect to your training area. Washing the windows and helping to clean floors honor your dojo as much as developing a strong counter-attack (perhaps more so because these things also require humility and teamwork).

It may sound crazy, but volunteering allows a chance to put as much effort into perfecting your window-washing and floor-cleaning skills as you put into perfecting your side-kicks and punches.

Through volunteering, you learn how a dojo is actually run. You can build or refresh your business skills. You can become better at working with teams or, if you are a career manager like me, you can seize the opportunity to re-connect with the work you normally direct others to do.

That is why I say, when I am not training at my dojo, I am training at my dojo (as a volunteer).

When you commit time to helping your dojo, you train yourself not only to be a better fighter, but also to be a better person.

________________________________________________________________________________________

 

It is my honor to train with Shihan (Master) Montise Peterson at his highly esteemed school, Mizudo Academy of Martial Arts in Dearborn, Michigan.

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A Day in the ROWE Life

 

You may wonder what it is like to work in a Results-Only Work Environment from a

practical standpoint (particularly if you are the skeptical management/HR type who assumes no work gets done, despite evidence to the contrary…). I thought I would share what a typical day looked like for me this week.

 

I woke up around 9:00 am. I actually “made" my breakfast instead of "had" my breakfast – a nice change from the way my days used to look. I did some exercise and spent about a half hour reading a book.

 

I set to working at 11:30 am. I worked until about 3:30 pm, and then decided to surprise my wife by bringing lunch to her job (she runs 2 independent retail stores). After lunch with Angela, I came home, went for a walk, and took a nap (taking walks and napping are unprecedented for me). About 6:30 pm, I sat down to work again until 8:30 pm. Angela came home then, and we made dinner which, again, was distinctly more pleasurable and healthy than “getting” or “buying” dinner, our usual custom until now. We watched an episode of “Heroes” while we ate. I enjoyed time with Angie until she went to bed at 11:00 pm.

I worked again from 11:00 pm until 2:00 am, then went to sleep (and did not have to set an alarm!).

 

All in all, I had a full day of work (9 hours by my count) but here is the thing… I was totally relaxed and enjoyed time with my wife; I ate when I was hungry and slept when I was tired.

 

What my day used to look like was conflicting schedules, constant snacking, little or no time together, too much fast food, and too little rest. What a difference when I own my time! What a difference!

I can not imagine that I ever lived another way. I wish this kind of freedom for everybody.

 

If you ask me, ROWE is the only way to go.

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3 Business Tools You Use That Your Kids Do Not

 

Typewriter, by Petr Kratochvil - 050210

 

I have had a few conversations about technology and the generation gap this week. It got me thinking about some distinctions I see in the way common tech tools are used between Gen X’ers like me and Gen Y and Millenials. Here are three common tools I use regularly that my little brothers and their friends would scoff at:

Old School:  Business Cards.

You are at a social function or  business event and you strike up a conversation about widgets with Bob from Acme, Inc. You and Bob hit it off and realize you may be able to help each other or share valuable advice somewhere down the line. What do you do? Exchange business cards, of course. At least that is what you might do if you are over 30 years old.

New Generation: Social Media.

My little brothers may never have business cards. I stopped carrying them myself more than a year ago. I struck up a conversation with a gentleman at a restaurant a few weeks ago. Turned out we are both vegans and read a lot of the same material. He asked for my business card as he extended his. I asked him to hold his card while I snapped a picture of it with my phone. I explained I no longer use business cards and rather than collect and store them in a folder or wallet I will rarely look at, I instead snap pictures of the cards and upload them to my free Evernote account. When I need to find a card or contact info, I open a browser wherever I am and search for the person’s name (or any text in the picture) and Evernote pulls it up. The gentleman (a little sheepishly) then asked for my card. I smiled and said, “My business card is Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, MichaelSalamey.com, or you can just do a Google Search for me. Do you have a cell phone? Just put my Google Voice number in your contacts and be sure to spell my name right. Now you can find me anytime, follow me socially, text me, or give me a call whenever you need me. Who needs a business card?”

 

My new friend Patrick followed a similar route. I met him at a party the other day, and he noticed I had a blackberry device, as did he. He sent his contact info and Blackberry Messenger virtual business card via Bluetooth directly to my phone. He snapped a picture of me with his phone and stored it in his contacts. Now we have pictures of each other, we can instant message, or communicate via Facebook, etc. We could even share our geographic location with each other, at our discretion, via Google Lattitude.

Augmented Reality applications offer even better, sleeker ways to network and interface with new people. Soon your phone will use facial recognition to pull up all the social media information you want about a person (or that they want you to have).

 

Old School:  Voicemail.

My cousin Abe trained me to stop leaving him voicemail about a year ago. I would call and leave a message and he would call back a few minutes later, asking if I had called. I would say, “Yes. I left a message.” He would patiently remind me that he never checks his messages. One day, just to illustrate his point, he called his voice mail on speaker phone. He had 43 messages. 43! They went back several months. “See?” he said, “Why do people even leave voicemails anyway? That’s what caller ID is for.”

 

I thought this was just Abe’s way of being eccentric, but my little brothers stopped checking their voicemail too. It is pointless to leave a message on their phone. Some of my younger friends do not even bother to set it up on their phones.

 

New Generation: IM, SMS, or Google Voice.

A few weeks ago, while chatting with Jody Thompson, she asked if I noticed that teens do not use voicemail. I brought up my little brothers, and thought of Abe. It turns out voicemail is going the way of the Atari 2600 for most young people. A friend noted he is annoyed when people leave voice messages. “Why not just text me instead of making me log into my voicemail every time someone leaves a message, listen to the time/date stamp, and then their boring rant before they just get to the point? Send a text—I know what you want immediately and I can probably respond in 140 characters or less.”

 

Texting and Instant Messaging is what the tech-savvy do. I’m a little ahead of the curve on this one. I use Google Voice (perhaps my all-time favorite application). One of its many wonderful features is “voice-to-text”. When someone leaves a voicemail, it appears on my phone as a text message. I can play the audio or respond via text.

 

Old School:  Cell Phone.

Abe joked on my Facebook wall that he downloaded an application for his Blackberry that allowed him to use the device to send and receive telephone calls. I thought that was funny because like many power-users, I rarely use my cell phone as an actual phone.

 

New Generation: Smart Phone.

The vast majority of time spent using my phone is to take advantage of its multimedia capabilities, to browse the web, or to manage tasks and calendars. I spent less than 200 minutes of time actually “talking on the phone” last month. Cell phones (and many home phones) have been replaced by “Smart Phones”—phones capable of doing much more than make and accept voice calls. None is more popular than the IPhone, of course, but I wonder how long the concept of a phone will be around.

 

Apple’s mega-popular IPad (which I suspect has forced Microsoft to reconsider its options) has already given a glimpse of a near future where the phone is as archaic as the Model T. With an ultra-thin high-resolution tablet PC and clever use of Bluetooth and applications like Google Voice, the phone as we once knew it, may soon be as irrelevant as… well… this. (That’s nerd humor; for non-techies, you have to click on the word “this” to get the joke).

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First Class Marketing

First Class Dryer 1- 050410

This was the hair dryer in my room at the Grand Hyatt hotel in Denver, CO. Here is today’s Marketing lesson. If you have to tell me something is “First Class”… it probably isn’t.

This goes the same for outrageous claims like, “World’s best coffee!” or “America’s favorite burger!” (really? The best coffee in the entire world? After a meticulous search across every continent, it turned out the best coffee anywhere is right here in Dearborn, Michigan—world renowned for it’s great…coffee? Who knew? America’s favorite burger? When was everyone in America polled? I don’t remember voting on that one; do you?).

If you have a great product, the world will let you know, not the other way around. The Grand Hyatt’s cheap hair dryer was produced by a company called “Jerdon”, not by the Grand Hyatt itself, but it is a reflection on the hotel nonetheless. The hair dryer is part of the experience of staying at the Grand Hyatt.

Incidentally, another part of the Grand Hyatt Denver experience is the odd fact that such a seemingly prestigious hotel does not offer free internet to guests or a complimentary breakfast. To get online, the cost was $9.95 for 24 hours (of which, of course, you would likely use less than 2 hours). Breakfast would run most guests at least as much. Oddly, there is a Starbucks within 30 feet of the hotel entrance where I could get free wi-fi and breakfast for less than 8 dollars.

The Grand Hyatt has it wrong. There is a lot of competition in the downtown Denver hotel market and my guess is unless the Grand Hyatt steps up to the guest experience of comparable nearby hotels (like the Magnolia, for example), their “first class” hair dryers will not make up for their last place Marketing.

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STFU LOL!

“LOL” (the acronym for “Laughing Out Loud”) is the flashing warning buoy by which to help one steer clear of lazy minds.

You may wonder why I have such animosity against the use of LOL, ROFL, LMAO, and other internet slang. After all, it helps people communicate faster (typing “LOL” is obviously much faster than typing “Laughing Out Loud”) and makes it easier for people with big fingers to manage tiny cell-phone keyboards.

I don’t care. Call me a “H8r” if you want, but in a world overrun by acronyms, people short-cut the power and elegance of communicating, and the malaise of chatter like “LOL”, as far as I am concerned, debases language.

It is probably beside the point to note when someone uses what I consider the-brain-mush-feeder-response “LOL”, they are almost never actually laughing out loud. They are likely not laughing at all; they might be smiling, but probably nothing more. In other words, the acronym does not even mean what it is intended to mean–even the acronym is debased! (Let alone ROFL or LMAO; I have never in my life seen a person actually “rolling on the floor laughing” and I think I would be panic-stricken, terrified, and in need of an ambulance if I actually “laughed my ass off”.)

Recently, I have seen what I can only assume are mildly retarded people incite multiple LOL’s. At the end of a message exchange, for example, one might find this gem, “HA! You crack me up lol, lol, lol…”. The acronym is dumb by itself, but it seems outright stupid to repeat it as indication of something funnier than… funny? What does “lol, lol, lol” mean to its fanatics, anyway? Do these people literally laugh out loud, then stop, then laugh out loud again and stop, only to start laughing out loud yet again? A person doing so must look like a loon to whoever was watching. Is “lol, lol, lol” perhaps part of an obscure rating system? Did I get three “lol’s” out of five? Or is it 3 out of 10? I mean, how funny was my comment, according to the communication moron scale?

Is there any reason to indicate, via text, that you laughed out loud more than once?

Unless U really R a crazy loon like, say, Prince, please do not write in lazy acronyms to say what U mean. Consider this idiot speech—the lowest common denominator, the McDonald’s of communication.

If you wish to communicate, please use whole words; speak, write, or type intelligently, and actually think before spewing time-wasting chatter as I assume we are all busy people.

This could be a separate rant, but if you are on Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, or other social networking sites, I beg of you…do not waste limited my time of life telling me about your grocery shopping, what time you woke up, what stupid thing your kid, your parent, or your friend did today, what you ate at the bar last night, how much you exercised this morning or partied last night, pictures of your meals, etc…

Tell me something interesting about yourself or your view on life, or impart information that is likely to be useful to me in some way.

And if someone says something funny, just say, “That’s funny” or “Ha ha”—the already universally accepted annotation for laughing. I mean really, “Ha ha” is only one letter more than “Lol”. I think you can handle that; I really do. By the way, in case you were wondering, as I wrote this, I was SQTM.

Smiling Quietly To Myself.

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Know When You’re Being Ripped Off by “Sort-of” Lie Marketing

 

It is becoming easier to identify straightforward brazen lying that used to pass for Marketing. Companies are learning it is harder to make bold false proclamations when empowered customers pick their claims apart and post reviews and opinions on the internet, where their voices are louder than ever.

The thing that has been bugging me lately, though, is the “sort-of” lies that are not so easy to spot. One of the top offenders, to me, is big box stores like Target (I am not picking on Target specifically; I could easily interchange “Target” for any big-box name). They post large, colorful banners around their stores to remind us to feel good about shopping there because they donate 5% of every sale to charity.

Many people are oblivious to the fact that Target donating millions of dollars to charity is a “sort-of” lie that probably has little to do with altruism or philanthropy (neither of which deserves defending, but still, it is what is assumed in their marketing efforts…).

It is a “sort-of” lie because many assumptions must be sheepishly accepted for us to believe Target really donates 5% of each sale to a charitable cause. Customers, at their peril, must be savvy enough to ask questions and recognize non-congruence where it exists.

For example, Target giving money to charity, through me, is vastly different from me giving to a charity directly.

When I donate to charity, it costs me something (money and time, usually). It is a donation to charity because it exhibits a sacrifice on my end. I do not, for example, take YOUR money, give it to charity, and say I donated. I can not add 5% to the salary from my employer, funnel that money wherever I choose, call it a donation, and market it as my generosity. In other words, I can not force you or my employer, or anyone else, to pay my charities.

People should be bothered that no one is bothered about businesses or government agencies forcing you to donate to charity regardless of your will. At the very least, people should be loudly asking these “charitable” companies:

—Does that charitable 5% come from the gross sale, net sale, or 5% of the wholesale cost of each transaction? Is it taken before or after taxes are paid to my city and state?

—What kind of tax breaks or incentives do you enjoy with my charitable “donation”?

—What charity am I “donating” to? Where, exactly, is my money going? Are political parties considered charities? How about non-profits, churches, or organizations with political associations to lobbyists or political activism? Am I being forced to donate to an organization not aligned with my values?

—Since you (Target) are not actually “donating” your money but are instead funneling my money, can I choose where it goes? Can I pick the charity for my 5%?

—Can I choose not to donate as part of the price of your products? Can I instead just have a fair price for the product I came to buy (since I did not come to involuntarily donate money to a cause I may not support or to a group I am not familiar with)?

Target (or any company) taking your money to support their causes is a sort-of lie, at best.

5% seems like no big deal, until you consider all the “sort-of” lie donations you involuntarily make every day. Almost every big box store forces customers to pay for their charitable contributions. Most big companies do, as well. Check the fine print on your cereal box, soup can label, cat litter, or whatever products you buy. How much of the money you worked so hard to earn so that you could better your own life, is taken as a “gift” to others you do not know and may not wish to support? How many non-profit CEO salaries do you subsidize each year?

If every store and product stopped forcing donations, I wonder what percentage of salary would be returned to the public. Would my income increase by 1%, 5% (more than the average annual raise of 3%—not a bad chunk of change), or even more? Not only would I have more of my income returned, but if I chose, I could donate the full amount available to me to a single charity of my choosing—one that is really important to me. Not to mention, the tax benefit of my donation would also be returned to me, and the money would likely be spent in my locale (as opposed to “donating” my tax dollars to Target’s shareholders and CEO to spend where they live; my guess is that my community needs it more).

Forced Charity is just one example of the “sort-of” lie, and perhaps that is the scariest part. What is the impact of all the “sort-of” lies imposed by big business? (A business does not have to be big to give half-truths, of course, but it is easier to hide shady practices in a big box set-up than in a Mom and Pop family business where the owners likely reside in the same neighborhood as the business.)

As much as possible I choose to shop at local mom-and-pop stores, and eat at locally owned restaurants, preferably those where I have established personal rapport with the staff and owners. There is a greater likelihood of honesty about where the money comes from and where it goes.

There is nothing wrong with making a profit; that is the point of owning a business, but making a “sort-of” profit and sort-of swindle should be called out for what it is, and soundly rejected.

Choose local. Ask where your money goes. Read product labels and call, write, or e-mail big box stores and companies that force you to delegate the money you earned to improve your own life or circumstances. Most of all, be outraged and express your outrage in appropriate form to your state representatives.

Watch out for the “sort-of” lie, whether it comes with legitimate good intentions or not, it is still a lie and you do not have to sanction it.

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A Martial Life

 

When people hear the phrase "Martial Arts", what springs to mind is usually something violent: kicking, punching, gouging, chopping, etc. The first thought is probably not of meditation, concentration,  book-study, or Philosophy. That is to say, most people focus on the "Martial" instead of the "Arts".

 

To be an exceptional Martial Artist, we can not have one without the other. The Martial Arts are inclined to both war ("martial") and beauty ("arts"). The inclination to war obviously lies in the fighting–martial arts were created to help people protect themselves and their families from attackers. The inclination toward beauty is in understanding martial arts does not only teach someone how to fight.

 

A student of nearly any fighting style will surely learn to use his or her body to its best potential. That is only part of the beauty, though. A great master ensures his students learn the Philosophy of the art, as well. It is as much a part of the training as kicking, punching, and blocking.

 

Martial arts teach us not only how to fight properly, but also how to live properly.

 

I am lucky to learn under a great Master and from my fellow students. Thanks to that and a lot of studying on my own, I see as I learn to discipline my body, I also learn to discipline my mind. This principle has a cumulative effect. When I learn to discipline my mind, I also learn to discipline my body.

 

Think of a basic punch. Learning to throw a proper punch disciplines the muscles required to do so. Remembering the principles of a proper punch disciplines the mind, which, in turn, makes a stronger punch and further disciplines the body, which makes it easier to concentrate on the punch, thus disciplining the mind, etc.

 

Through martial arts, I gain focus, patience, control, confidence, self-discipline, strength, and personal power by learning to use my body to its best potential. I retain youth, endurance, flexibility, and stamina, which I am able to apply in other areas of life. For example, I need less sleep than I did before starting Karate, and that leaves more time for studying, training, or just relaxing. I feel healthier and more alert which improves how well I do my job. I am able to be more physically active with my family and friends whereas before I avoided strenuous activities.

 

In Ancient times, this was called, "Sit Mens Sana in Corpore Sano"—the famous Latin phrase for "A sound mind in a sound body". It means total health is about more than physical exercise. That is why martial arts is the perfect path to fitness–physical, mental, and even spiritual fitness are available to anyone willing to learn and train. Through complete and proper studying of the martial arts (which means learning the physical elements as well as the philosophical), you benefit by getting regular exercise, learning new skills, finding new approaches to life, gaining personal power, and no doubt making deep, personal friendships along the way .

 

Through study and physical training, I become a Martial Philosopher as well as a Martial Artist. To me, that is a thing of beauty.

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